Kid Road-Trippin’ Top 10

B0DA0FE3-CDE9-4ACE-8A91-F9E19A8188F1.jpegAs cabin fever seizes our family with cold temperatures and limited sunlight, we start dreaming of warmer weather and vacations. Hubby and I love road trips. We like to just take off and see where the road takes us. We have learned in our 15 plus years together that he is the late-night negotiator at the hotel lobby counter, I am the online booker and he is not allowed to navigate…ever. With the additions of Miss E and Miss A to our fold, our opportunities to road trip have been drastically cut, but Miss A is turning 3 this year, her potty-training is at 95% and she is able to verbalize(kind of) what she needs. We have decided this is the year of the family road-trip. This made me think…how should I mentally and practically prepare the care for these adventures?

NoDakKelli’s Top 10 Checklist for the Car so I Don’t Lose My Mind on a Family Road Trip.
*This is my list feel free to hippy-it-up as much as you want
10. Sunglasses for everyone. Hubby, me, both kids, everyone needs sunglasses and no one will remember to pack them unless you happen to leave the house when the sun is menacingly beating down. If it’s early morning, late evening, or if a cloud exists, everyone will forget and then whining, complaining, and eye damage caused by UV radiation will follow.

9. Plastic bags. There will be messes. There will be garbage. You are going to enjoy not smelling those stinky discards for miles and miles down the road. I like to take a little handful of those plastic bags I have crammed under my kitchen sink at home and put them in my glovebox or under my seat before a trip.

8. Water bottles. If you have leak-free water bottles, even better! This way you can pour whatever beverage out of the ridiculously flimsy container into the bottle and maybe, just maybe, avoid a spill. If that doesn’t work:

7. Paper towels. Trust me. You will never complain about having too many absorbent paper products handy. While you’re at it: wet wipes(baby wipes/Clorox/etc). Sometimes a paper towel won’t cut it. My youngest thinks ketchup doubles as a skin conditioner and testing the structural integrity of drinking cups is a competitive sport…sometimes you need to call in the big guns…or wipes.

6. Slip-on shoes or sandals. Our children don’t give us a countdown for bathroom breaks. There’s no “Mummy. I believe I’ll need the facilities sometime in the next 30 or so minutes, so please keep a keen eye.” It’s more of a frantic request(usually RIGHT after passing the well-lit, nicely laid out travel stop) which quickly turns into painful screaming because someone needs to potty NOW. I don’t want to spend time buckling cute booties or tying 10-foot-long tennis shoe laces. Time’s a factor. If the shoes don’t slip on, pack them in the overnight bag.

5. Entertainment. I’m not getting into a technology vs no technology argument. You do you. We’ll do us. BUT if you are hauling kiddos for hours upon hours in the car, you are going to want something to occupy their little minds and give you some respite from I Spy(my girls could play I Spy HOURS on end, in eastern North Dakota you only have so many green-grass, green-field, blue-sky, blue-sign, gray-road, gray-grain bin you can handle before getting twitchy). We like: kids magazines, etch-a-sketch, DVD players, music, baby dolls with bottles or other simple accessories.

4. Blankets and Travel Pillows. I haul my pillow with me when I go over night. It helps me sleep better and I don’t assume everyone else will sleep fine with all foreign bedding, so each kid gets a blanket and a pillow of some kind for in-car snoozing.
3. Chargers. That ITunes Kid’s Playlist of happy pop, curse-free rock, and Disney standards will do you no good if your phone or IPod are dead.

2. An insulated cooler bag. I usually don’t mess with ice, but I do throw a freezer pack(wine chiller) from the freezer into the bag for beverages and in case we pick up anything we’d prefer to keep cool.

1. Snacks. It doesn’t matter if we just ate a huge breakfast 35 seconds before getting in the car. For some reason the car’s transmission clicking into reverse somehow magically drains my children’s stomachs and they are hungry. My children are asking for snacks or assessing our snack situation before we leave a parking lot. I don’t know if they think we are going to get marooned to a distant planet that doesn’t have food and all we will have to survive is what I have in the car, but they are worried. Variety and the architecture of snacks should be taken into consideration, as children get bored and if your snack choice bursts into a million flakes of dusty powder on impact…you’re going to need a hazmat suit to clean out your back seat. When we travel, this is what I’m packing: bananas (this is where those plastic bags come in handy, so you aren’t smelling deteriorating banana peels for hundreds of miles), cheese sticks (in the cooler bag), fruit snacks, applesauce pouches, and pretzels.

Now remember, car trips are fun!! Plus there will be somewhere to get booze when you reach your destination. If not, put a bottle of something IN the cooler bag. We’ll call that number 1.75…see what I did there?

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Valentine Shmalentine

It’s Wednesday. It’s also Valentine’s Day. Here’s my little(not so little) gripe. I haven’t checked out social media yet today, but I am willing to bet it will be FILLED with posts about aww….look my bae sent me flowers, ooshy-gooshy love declarations, posts about going out for dinner, candy, blah, blah, blah, which is fine…if you are a teenager. Let me lay it down how Valentine’s Day works:

The Assignment. Your kids will come home needing 174 Valentines for their classmates or friends. These will need to be either A: purchased or B: homemade. I will always hope for option A. Then your little one will write out all of the cards and you’d better hope you can find that class list because parents are nuts and you don’t want to miss-spell: Porsche, Siouxzi, Phareough, Aiden, Ayden, Eiden, Adehn, or Ahdein.
Oh and there needs to be a “treat” but if it’s candy make sure it doesn’t have peanuts, eggs, gluten, dye, etc because there is one kid somewhere who can’t have it. I’ve never met this kid, but I’ve been assured that he/she does actually exist.
Now you probably accomplished, or at least started, the Assignment days ago, so this is where it becomes a test: remembering the Valentines on the actual day so your little one can drop them off. Most mornings I’m doing well if I’m wearing matching shoes and socks of somewhat the same color, so having this extra little task-no thank you.
The Competition. At the office, flowers will start coming in and you have an obligatory duty to take a lap around and comment on how beautiful they are and how wonderful your coworker’s partner must be. If they are extra large, you can also comment how they must have done something wrong *nudge* *wink* barf. Guys, if you are sending flowers, you’d better make sure they go to the office so she can be a part of the competition. Your only saving grace if you skimp out on paying the delivery fee and hand-delivering them is:
Social Media. If your significant other is brazen enough to NOT send you a gift to work so you can bask in all of the ‘Look at me’ glory, it’s okay. You can post photos of the <insert cliché gift here> all over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or whatever other social media platform you use to make your life look more Stepford than it actually is.
The meal. This is where people will go out and spend more than they intend to buy food they don’t really want, wine that’s more than they want to spend and be around crowds they don’t like…for the sake of VDay. Oh how enjoyable.

So here’s the deal. It’s Wednesday. My Hubby is awesome all year round. The undue stress of trying to plan a “romantic” evening on one particular day(by doing things that some people at Hallmark or Lifetime deem is Valentine appropriate) No thanks. Do you know what I woke up to this morning? Well besides children who move the speed of molasses in January. Hubby stayed up and cleaned the house after I went to bed-halle-fricken-lujah! That maybe the best Valentine’s day gift I’ve ever gotten. Do you know what I gave him? An Espresso Double-shot and I bought a piece of red meat for us to cook at home and eat at home tonight. The thing is: this doesn’t scream Valentine’s Day. There are other days that I wake up and Hubby was up burning the midnight oil doing some fixing/cleaning/repurposing. There are other days I come home with a treat of something extra tasty for dinner or get him a caffeine boost.

Here’s the thing: you can’t make up for 364 days of being a sucky partner with one day of flowers and candy so just stop. If you’re doing it right, you don’t need a Valentine’s Day. If you really get excited about all of the hearts and flowers and chocolate, then great: do you. If you only pull out the hearts and flowers and chocolate because you think you have to-you don’t get it. Instead of blowing a couple hundred bucks on dinner and some flowers, try just not being an idiot. Do something nice(it can be small) for your partner more frequently than an annual basis. Help, appreciate and acknowledge each other. Leave the rest of the junk to the teenagers.
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